Magnificently unpolished and entirely unapologetic, Soft Lions’ latest release, ‘XOXO,’ is a 19-minute voyage to the crossroads of punk and indie. While inspired by both genres, the release lacks the energetic intensity of the former, and the recording quality of the latter. Though some might see that as two strikes against ‘XOXO,’ the end product manages to deliver something eccentric, yet comfortably familiar.

The San Francisco three piece’s newest tracks are a comparable in style to early Pixies and The B-52. They have a certain edginess and dance-ability that could score the album a place in an unconventional movie about growing up as an outcast in a big city. Soft Lions took “save the best for last” to heart, as the second half of the album is noticeably better than the opening three tracks. ‘In the Garden,’ in particular, has an earworm quality that brought it to mind repeatedly for days after listening.

While not a departure from the formula set out in ‘Spellbreaker,’ the group’s 2015 debut release, ‘XOXO is an evolution and a step in the right direction for the band. They have not quite arrived yet, but should their next release be equally as large a leap, they might make a splash soon.

‘XOXO’ is out now via Velvet Blue MusicSoft Lions ‘XOXO’

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